I am not a religious person. But I still celebrate Christmas. Growing up, we always had Christmas Eve dinner at my parents house. My dad would cook up a storm and my siblings and I would rush through dinner in the hopes we could get to unwrapping presents as soon as we were finished eating! But because we were not religious, Christmas was always about being together as a family. Dinner was always home cooked and took all day, my siblings and I would set the table, we decorated the whole house as a family, and we took great joy in watching each other open presents. My brother and I used to wrap presents for each other with duct tape or do other terrible tings to each other as siblings often do. But it was all in good fun! Some years we had a tree, but most years we didn’t. One year, when I was around 10, my parents bought a LIVE tree and after the holiday was over, they planted it. That tree grew to be HUGE! I went to my parents house today to take a picture of it 25 or so years later:
Now that I’m an adult and out of the house, I keep the tradition alive by hosting Christmas Eve dinner at my house. My husband and I cook and invite over family, which includes his mom as well now (the rest of them are in Europe–hopefully they come out one of these years). This was our first time hosting as husband and wife, so that was especially exciting!
This year I kept presents on the top shelf of my closet until I had time to wrap them. When I went to grab the presents off the shelf I stumbled across something that reminded me of what I love about Christmas–taking an entire day (or two if you celebrate both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) out of your life to focus on sharing love with people in your life.
So what did I find? Well, when I bought my house around 11 years ago, it was under rather unfortunate circumstances. The man who owned my house was a retired Veterinary doctor who also owned a house in Colorado. He was driving from Colorado to this Los Angeles home when he, his girlfriend, and their dog were struck by a drunk driver. Sadly, they lost their lives in the accident. His two adult daughters survived him and decided to sell the Los Angeles house. They wanted to sell it rather quickly, and after fighting another potential buyer for it, they daughters decided their father would want a young woman, just getting started in life, to have it. So I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to buy the house. When I moved in, the house was completely empty EXCEPT for one item, sitting on the top shelf of the closet in the master bedroom. It was a Father’s Day card from one of the daughters to the man who used to live in my house. It was given to him in 1998 and I bought the house in 2003 which meant he had kept the card for a few years. It was special to him. I have always felt that the the fact that the card was the only thing left in this house was some kind of cosmic sign and it was left here for a reason. I never got to meet his daughters, but through this card I feel like I share in their love for their family. The card has always brought me a sense of calm and well being–as if he is here watching over me. Here it is:
I have kept the card all these years as a reminder of how fleeting life can be and how the only thing that really matters at the end of it all is the love you share. In one moment, an accident can take someone special away from you. We can’t always choose our circumstances and sometimes we are dealt terrible hands. But we are all capable of love and sharing it is the greatest gift there is. My wish for you this holiday season is to spend it loving or being loved whether it’s with the family you were born to or the family you created. And my best wishes to you for the coming year!